Keeping laying hens in conventional battery cages will be banned throughout the European Union from January 2012. No new conventional cages have been brought into use since 2003 and existing cages have to have more space and a claw-shortening device.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his reply. Animal welfare campaigners are enthusiastic about the ban that will be in place by 2013, but they are nervous about rumours that there might be a delay. Will he assure the House that Britain will resist any delay? Does he welcome the actions of Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer in phasing out even enriched cages?
We certainly welcome any measures taken by retailers and private individuals to encourage the consumption of food produced in a more welfare-friendly way. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks: the UK will remain robust in insisting that the European Union sticks to its current timetable for the ban on battery cages.